Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

London Pubs… Not My Scene

September 19, 2010 · 3 Comments

I have been to many pubs in London, though probably not as much as some of my group members. The fact is, I don’t really like them. Before I came to England, I had the idea that pubs would be low-key and intimate places. I thought they would be places where I could relax. It turns out to be the opposite. I can’t relax at these places. I get extremely anxious. Pubs are where I actually have to act British, and I am not too sure yet what that means. I have read Fox and she has helped, but the times I actually experienced the pub scene for myself I’ve been confused. In the moment, I have a hard time thinking about what Fox has told me to do, and I just do what David always does… and it’s not always pretty.
One experience that I had was when Sean and I went to the Rising Sun. We made our way to the bar and, after probably five minutes of waiting, the bartender came and asked what we wanted. I ordered a pint of London Pride, and the guy asked if that was all and I said yes. But, then Sean said he wanted one too so I said, “Wait actually my friend wants one too.” Strike one. When you order, know what you want and order it all together. So the bartender gave me an attitude and then started to pour Sean’s drink. When he was finished, he gave us the price of the two drinks. We went fumbling through our pockets, full of random coins that we hadn’t yet learned by touch, so we could pay separately for the drinks we ordered. Strike two. Be ready with the money and pay together so the transaction can be fast, especially on a busy night like this one was. No need for a third strike, the bartender had no sympathy for the two confused Americans. When we eventually paid, we got our drinks and went to sit. We found a group of girls from the program, and I had to take Melissa with me when I wanted another drink because of how embarrassed I was. But experiences like this are not the only reason I don’t like pubs.

Pub food is garbage and the atmosphere is uncomfortable. I don’t care if its steak and ale pie, potato jackets, or a burger. The only thing that’s actually good is the fish and chips, but really how could anyone mess that up. This food is really missing all and any flavor that it could have. I really prefer to go to restaurants to eat and drink. The food is usually better and just as cheap. The drinks too are usually just as expensive. I like the slower pace of restaurants because I can eat and drink without people yelling and their elbows in my plate.

On a recent night, however, I was surprised to find a pub that I actually liked. It was small and quiet. When I looked in the window I hesitated before going in because it looked so low-key that I was worried it was a kind of a “regulars” spot. But when I walked in (with Sean) I found that it was exactly the kind of place I had been looking for! Sean and I were probably the youngest people there. There was no music. The place wasn’t full but the people there were actively engaged with who ever was across from them at their table. I felt relaxed, I felt comfortable, and I drank a lot. I think the pub’s name was the King’s Crown. It’s a little bit up Gower Street, on a street to the left. I recommend that before everyone leaves, they give this place a shot because I’m sure it’s different than any place you have been to so far. I will totally be going back before I leave.

I hope to find pubs, like the one I just spoke about, in Norwich. I know pub food is notoriously bad everywhere, but I just want a place I can relax and unwind. That’s it.

Categories: 2010 David · Uncategorized

3 responses so far ↓

  •   sarahb // Sep 19th 2010 at 17:05

    Pubs are where I feel the most pressure to be English as well. You mentioned that Kate Fox’s book really helps you, but sometimes I wish I hadn’t read it. There is something to be said for the phrase “ignorance is bliss.” If I hadn’t read her book, I wouldn’t know how much like a dreaded foreigner I act. Knowing all the faux pas has made me horribly aware and overly anxious. I think I would have had an easier, or at least less stressful time fitting in if I hadn’t read the book.

  •   bowmanc // Sep 19th 2010 at 17:16

    This pub sounds awesome. Let’s go there before we leave (which means quite soon). To contrast this, go to the court. Probably least relaxing pub I’ve been to – uber crowded bar (actually just crowded everywhere), crazy loud music, people looking at you funny all the time. I hope that pubs in Norwich are more relaxed too. I have yet to understand British frustration with Americans. Americans would not get super pissed over little, minute social cues like the ones you described (at least, I hope they wouldn’t). If you had any thoughts on this, I’d like to hear ’em.

  •   battilaj // Sep 20th 2010 at 12:04

    I get so nervous in pubs, that I have to take someone up to the bar with me to order a drink.

    Did you notice that in Bedlam, they really played up the connections between British identity and pubs/drunkness? Maybe people are overly sensitive to social cues and foreigners in pubs because they are such potent symbols of Britishness.

You must log in to post a comment.